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Friday, January 25, 2013

Audiobook Review: White Cat by Holly Black

TITLE: White Cat
SERIES: Curse Workers, Book #1
AUTHOR: Holly Black 
NARRATOR: Jesse Eisenberg
PUBLISHER: Listening Library 
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 6 hrs and 41 mins
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780307711816
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail—he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

This book has won a number of literary awards, including:

Black has created an alternate reality where people called "curse workers" exist. A curse worker is someone who has the ability to make things happen by touch with a bare hand. Some workers can manipulate emotions, while others can transfigure objects and even cause death. A worker will experience something called "blowback" after using their skills, which is a reaction that affects the worker. For example, a memory worker's own memories might become compromised. Curse work has been banned, and everyone wears gloves. Some people are not even aware that they have the ability to do curse work. Because of the nature of their abilities, curse workers are often employed by the mob. 

At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to a 17 year-old boy named Cassel Sharpe. He attends Wallingford Preparatory School in New Jersey. He has had a dream of a white cat and awakens to discover that he is on the roof of the school. Students and teachers assume that he is contemplating suicide, and he tries to explain that he must have been sleepwalking. The headmaster bans him from the dormitory and, to protect the school from a liability, insists that Cassel provide a clean bill of health from a doctor before he is permitted to return to the dorms. Cassel has to return to his childhood home, which has been vacant a long time since his mother is in prison. His grandfather stays there with them.

Cassel is the only member of the family who is not a curse worker, so he feels a bit like the odd man out. His mother is an emotion worker, and she can make anyone trust her. She can convince people they are in love with a stroke of her hand. His brother, Phillip, is a body worker and can break someone's leg with a touch of his finger. His grandfather is a death worker, and the blowback has caused some of his fingers to blacken and fall off. He discovers that his family is hiding something, and Cassel must use his wits to survive.

Cassel is fantastic male protagonist! He is smart as a whip, and he runs a gambling ring in the school and takes bets from students on silly things, such as whether the dormitory mouse will get stuck in the glue trap or survive another day. He is witty, sarcastic, and has a snarky sense of humour that I really enjoyed! The addition of paranormal abilities and the danger of the mafia made this a thrilling read!

Black is a new-to-me author, and I really enjoyed this book. The premise of the story was unique, and I can't wait to read the next one in the series, Red Glove.

Narrator Jesse Eisenberg did a bang-up job of capturing the attitude of Cassel. He was a pleasure to listen to, and I hope he narrates the rest of the series. 


  1. First let me wish you luck on all your challenges! I can barely finish and keep track of ONE. How do you do it??

    Anyway, great review.I actually had this one from the library but I gave it up because I didn't think it would be any good. Happy to see that isn't the case (although I am regretting not reading it now!)

    Gambling ring, LOL. I would love to see how that plays out. I like good male protagonists too.

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    1. Hi, Alise!

      Yes, I have a slight addiction to reading challenges ;)

      I hope you'll get a chance to pick it up again from the library and enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. First I want to say, how in the world do you keep track of that many challenges! I am glad there is a lot of overlap. I have less than a dozen right now and I am getting anxious and it is only January! lol

    Second, I don't think I have read a single review of this book where people did not have tons of nice things to say about it. I have got to read it!

    1. It's an obsession, LOL! Thank goodness for overlap or I'd never be able to do it!! Challenges are fun, but I know I can't possibly do them all but it doesn't stop me from joining :)

  3. That was exactly my question Becca! how do you keep track of so many challenges? I am in 4 (visiting from the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge) and that's how I found you. Sounds like an interesting read and glad it fulfilled so many of your challenges. Look forward to seeing what else you've read. Love the beachy, happy design of your blog as well. Happy reading!

  4. This is on my TBR. Great review.


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